Rick Nash Derby: Red Wings’ interest causes stir; free agent options could delay

Now that Zach Parise has opted for Jucy Lucy's and an endless supply of Timberwolves tickets, the hockey world turns its weary eyes back to Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Aaron Portzline of the Dispatch offered further clarity on Nash's list:

The Dispatch today confirmed that the Pittsburgh Penguins are on Nash's approved list and have been from the start. The list, then, as we know it: Detroit, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Jose.

This is the same list Nash presented the Blue Jackets last winter, but there have been hints lately of a willingness on Nash's part to expand it, perhaps for Carolina.

The Rangers and Blue Jackets have been have talking for the last year, unable to come to terms on a price tag for Nash.

The San Jose Sharks have an offer on the table for Nash; Logan Couture shouldn't be in it and it's hard to believe they'd sign Adam Burish only to trade away his college buddy Joe Pavelski for Nash.

The Flyers have been in "serious talks" about Nash since last week; Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly writes that:

"Scott Howson apparently wants both Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier or one of them with several other players. Given that the Flyers just traded for Brayden's brother, Luke, last week, and used a valuable asset in James van Riemsdyk, that seemingly takes Brayden out of the picture. Couturier is almost untouchable in a lot of minds within the Flyers organization."

The Penguins got a hell of a lot more interesting after losing out on Parise.

They have the cap space ($10.5 million) and some assets (both in prospects and roster players like Paul Martin, if Columbus is interested) that could work in a deal. They also covet a winger for Sidney Crosby, as Ray Shero said on July 4:

"If we could (find center Sidney Crosby) a winger, that would be fantastic," Shero said. "It would make my life a lot easier, (but) Sid does pretty well whoever he plays with. I'd love to get a winger for Sidney, but those guys don't fall off trees."

The idea of Carolina in the Nash Derby has Perry Tilley of Cardiac Canes both excited and wary:

Why are Canes fans not salivating over the idea of Rick Nash in Raleigh? We should think about what it would cost to bring him here. I am afraid of what and who would go to Columbus to get Nash. You thought it was shocking to hear Brandon Sutters name called in the Staal trade. With Brian Dumoulin gone from the system, do we want to hand over Ryan Murphy too? For years the Canes have been lacking in top tiered defenseman, and within weeks, two great prospects would be gone.

Which brings us to Detroit.

Now, the Red Wings need a defenseman (or two) more than they need Rick Nash. But they also have the cap room and the players — on the roster, in the system — to potentially make a deal work.

Trading Rick Nash inside the Central Division … yikes. As Michael Arace of the Dispatch opined, it's not something he wants to see Blue Jackets fans exposed to:

Do not give them the only star the Jackets have ever had, the franchise's career leader in every important offensive category, the man who was supposed to be the cornerstone of the enterprise. To do so would be a crime against sport. Is that an overstatement? I do not think so. Think of the fans. Think of the soul of the operation. It should have a soul, should it not?

There is only one scenario whereby Nash-to-Detroit would be acceptable, and that is if the Wings give up GM Ken Holland, coach Mike Babcock and a goaltender (preferably, Jimmy Howard). Absent such a weighty return, the Jackets are no closer to beating the Wings for another generation. Is that not the point, to beat them?

Well, yeah, in the sense that they're one of 29 teams the Blue Jackets are trying to be better than, even if it means sleeping with the enemy.

But as much as the Nash Derby should be reaching its dramatic conclusion, there are a few hindrances. First, Howson's stubborn price tag. Second, the free agents floating out there that might make more sense than sending five players to Nash.

Shane Doan's potential availability has the Red Wings salivating, and they're probably not alone. Alex Semin could provide an offensive jolt on a short-term deal. Then there's Bobby Ryan, who isn't a free agent but might attract as much interest as Nash at a lower cost.

Third? It's in Howson's best interests to keep this thing going deep into the summer to see if Nash will expand his list of trade destinations. So while the Parise domino fell, the Nash one might teeter a bit longer.

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